Part 8

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Burgess felt both feverish and exhausted as he rested against the rough siding of the cabin.

Winded as he was by his recent push through the woods, he could only hope that surely by now he'd managed to move far and wide enough that the damned Indian whore who'd plagued him had not seen nor heard anything of his travels.

Loss of the tree branch crutch that he'd used as a crutch along the way hadn't helped any either as blood soaked through most of his shirt to leave little or no doubt as to the growing severity of his wound.

He winced as he laughed at the words the old doc back in town would have likely used to describe his condition of the moment or how he would have tried to avoid saying such things as ugly, bad or just plain 'sorry son' instead of the words polite city folks would have liked to use instead.

Convinced more than ever that he needed to move and move now, Burgess pulled himself up and carefully moved around the cabin.

Lady luck had finally smiled upon him as he found an unlocked window that pushed up with a fair amount of ease before he struggled to pull himself up and fell through it into the cabin.

Panic gripped him as he felt the changes begin to churn which caused him to quickly peel off his clothing.

Lessons of the past had taught him it was better to save what you could for when you might just find need it later.

Naked and curled in a ball, he whimpered in pain as he focused on nothing and everything at the same time. It was always like that when it happened. A painful rip here, a god-awful snap there and then all hell would break loose ... and then ... nothing.

Absolutely nothing but the silence of the cabin around him as even the dust seemed to hang in the stillness of the air.

Like the calm before a storm that he knew this was going be bad; really bad.

Fingers began to curl and lengthen as he rolled to his knees, his back arched and hips pushed out with the wave of familiar agony as softer parts of his body stretched beyond their limits only to expand even further.

With his head snapped back, he began to scream only to be cut off just as quickly as he'd started while his face contorted, folded and remolded before a deep guttural snarl eventually filled the room as the changes finished and what remained of the pain began to fade.

It was here and it was ready for anything.

The man-bear shook its great black mane before it settled on its haunches to lick wounds with care as it found them.

Gaps beneath the fur began to fuse while bone and muscle weakened from injury mended.

Human eyes studied the window that he'd crawled through just moments before.

Thoughts of certain red meat aroused lustful hunger that had not been properly fed in a long time.

It was only a matter of time now.

Filled with such hunger, the man-bear watched the door and waited.

Any time now, Indian, any time.

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